Now that we’ve had time to digest the 2010 NFL Draft, it’s time to start thinking of the incoming class in terms of fantasy value. I’ll start by ranking the rookie running backs.
1. Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Mathews wasn’t the first RB to come off the board, but he found the best home. Norv Turner has already stated that he wants to get Mathews plenty of touches, both on the ground and through the air. He’s the feature back in a high-powered offense. He has the size that should get him the red-zone carries. He has little competition as Darren Sproles is a change-of-pace back and third-down specialist.
2. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
He was the first RB selected and the No. 2 fantasy prospect for 2010. He is lightning quick with the ability to score any time he touches the ball. Speed backs like Chris Johnson and Jamaal Charles excelled last year with similar skill sets. Competition in the form of Fred Jackson prevents Spiller for being the top rookie prospect. He could actually slide a notch if it looks like it’s going to be a 50-50 split with Jackson.
3. Jahvid Best, Detroit Lions
Best should get plenty of opportunities with the Lions as Kevin Smith recovers from his ACL injury. Best has injury concerns of his own, but possesses a great deal of talent. The Lions have done an outstanding job rebuilding their team. While they aren’t likely to be playoff contenders, they should be more competitive in 2010 meaning a more balanced offensive attack. Best stands to receive the lion’s share (pun intended) of the carries.
4. Ben Tate, Houston Texans
The Texans would have loved to land Mathews, but Tate is a great consolation prize. Not only does he have great speed and size, but he has experience with zone-blocking schemes which the Texans use.
5. Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings
I am convinced that the Vikings will rely on the run more in 2010. Adrian Peterson won’t be the only Viking RB to have fantasy relevance. With Chester Taylor in Chicago, Gerhart has an excellent chance of filling his role. If Peterson’s fumbling woes continue, Gerhart could steal even more carries.
6. Montario Hardesty, Cleveland Browns
For a moment it looked like Peyton Hillis was going to handle the grunt yardage for the Browns, but after the club selected Hardesty in the second round, it appears Hillis will focus more on opening holes for Jerome Harrison and Hardesty. Hardesty should get plenty of looks, and if Harrison gets hurt or can’t replicate his late-season success, he could get even more.
7. Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs
If he were only sharing carries with Jamaal Charles, I would have McCluster fifth on the list based on talent. Opportunity is going to come into play in 2010 though, as the Chiefs signed Thomas Jones as well. Should Charles or Jones succumb to injury, go ahead and bump McCluster up your list.
8. Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers
Dwyer is another guy I would have ranked higher if he were in a better situation. Landing in Pittsburgh where he’ll receive few carries after Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore get their share. He could be a riser though if injuries befell the Steelers.
9. Joe McKnight, New York Jets
McKnight will not replace the void Leon Washington left. He’ll share in the role, but Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlison figure to play the prominent roles in the Jets’ rushing attack. McKnight could make some explosive plays in the return game, as well as in third down situations. Unless Greene or LT went down though, McKnight shouldn’t be much of a factor.
10. LeGarrette Blount, Tennessee Titans
Though he went undrafted, Blount could find himself getting a few meaningful carries in 2010. The Titans simply can’t use Chris Johnson as heavily next year. Not unless they want to run him into the ground. Blount will have to compete with Javon Ringer for touches, but his size more closely matches that of LenDale White.
Originally published at LestersLegends.com .